Don’t blame the teachers for the inequities of education

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0904schoolbusweb

When we send our kids off to school, all we want as parents is for them to have a great learning experience that will help take them where they want to go in life, be that college, university or a skilled trade.

That doesn’t seem like much to ask, but the reality is it is getting tougher and tougher for teachers to do the job of teaching when they have large classrooms of kids, at all different levels, and many with behaviour issues.

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Some people envy teachers and their salaries and summers off; I admit to being one of them until I actually had a child in the school system. Now, you could not pay me enough to have a classroom of 25 or more kids, with some learning at a high level, some right on the provincially mandated target and some who honestly, should not be moving on to the next grade without way more attention than one teacher can give.

How school boards can pass a child into the next grade when it is obvious they need more help than they are getting mystifies me. Yes, kids move on with their peers, but it seems they are simply being set up to fail in a horrible and frustrating manner after elementary school. I believe we are letting those kids down and not preparing them in the least for high school and adulthood.

When educational assistants – who usually are there to help kids keep up with their grades – are being cut, and teachers are trying to handle a huge group, some kids – and no amount is acceptable – are being left behind. Kids who need to be challenged end up bored and frustrated, and those who need extra help to keep up end up frustrated. No one wins.

Yes, education costs money, and the province is spending $22.5 billion this year. In Ontario there are 73 school boards overseeing over 4,900 schools, 4,000 of those elementary. But there are inequities across the boards, even from school to school in the same area.

In Chatham-Kent, you can have one school with smartboards in every class while another has to share one or two around the entire school. Some classes have innovative and engaged teachers who find grants so each student has an iPad in the class. Others don’t even have the resources to have a computer for every student.

I also understand the purpose behind inclusive learning, ensuring all students are with their peers, but to create such diverse learning needs in each class and then not have the supports for teachers to give each child the attention they need and deserve is an exercise in futility.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I am thankful every day for the teachers in Brenna’s life to date and hope by the time she graduates Grade 8 in June, she is ready and eager to tackle whatever high school can throw at her.

To all the teachers who do their best every day to make sure all students have a positive learning environment and experience, you have my deepest thanks and admiration.

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